You are currently viewing Showing Self-Compassion 4: Inner Mindfulness

Showing Self-Compassion 4: Inner Mindfulness

Showing Self-Compassion Day 4: Inner Mindfulness

Sharon Snooks

This series has been given the title of showing self-compassion, but when I first considered self-compassion as a concept, I was very hesitant because of the word “self.” I wanted to guard against being too self-focused. As I learned more about self-compassion, I quickly understood that having self-compassion has the opposite effect and ends up causing us to focus more on the Lord and His compassionate care for us. While writing this series, the idea of using the word “inner” for “self” came to my mind—inner compassion. For those who still hesitate to think of self-compassion, this idea of inner compassion might land a little softer. 

In this self-compassion series, we have looked at the first two pillars: self-kindness and common humanity. Now we will look at the third pillar: mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to live in the moment, or moment by moment. Another definition by therapist Aundi Kobler explains mindfulness as non-judgmental attention. In the context of self-compassion, mindfulness is the ability to slow down and make some space to acknowledge that I am hurting. It’s a willingness to turn inward and be aware of our pain. This perspective gives us more space from our pain. When acknowledging that you’re in pain, place your hand on your heart and be willing to say, “This is so hard.” 

The opposite of self-compassion is self-criticism, which comes more naturally to us. It’s often an act of self-protection, a safety response when we feel threatened. We think we’re helping ourselves or correcting ourselves so that we don’t make that mistake again, or we think it won’t hurt so much if we criticize ourselves first before someone else does. However, self-criticism focuses on the self in a way that doesn’t direct our focus toward God. But when we bring in self-compassion, we open ourselves up to looking to the God of compassion, the One who taught us to have compassion on ourselves and others. 

When we are engaged in self-criticism, our body is activated in fight-or-flight mode. But placing our hand on our heart and acknowledging how hard the pain is reduces cortisol in our body and brings our mind and nervous system into a calmer state. A physiological shift happens: our body slows down, we are able to participate in self-kindness, or inner kindness, and we are able to take in God’s compassionate care and love. 

Self-compassion is not self-pity. Self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself and thinking, It’s just me, whereas with common humanity we are aware that it’s not just me—it’s part of being human. This perspective makes us feel less alone and more connected with others, as well as focused on them. 

Any movement toward self-compassion is a movement away from self-criticism. Acknowledging our pain will cause us to focus on the Healer of our pain instead of blaming ourselves or having self-pity related to what we are going through, which pushes our focus away from the One who will strengthen and heal us. 

Mindfulness is being in the present moment with no judgment. Practicing mindfulness is especially helpful when we find ourselves being self-critical or feeling a lot of emotional pain. When you notice the self-criticism or the pain surface, take that moment, as I suggested earlier, to place your hand on your heart and say, “This is so hard.” Notice the subtle shift, resulting in less tension in your body. You may not notice a big difference right away but it will come with practice. Then direct your attention above to the One who can be with you in this hard circumstance, in the pain, in the discomfort. Take in His compassionate care for you, knowing that He is with you in this moment. 

(Note: Some ideas taken from Kristen Neff.)

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply